Book Notes Canto XXI Notes from The Inferno

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The Inferno Canto XXI

The fifth chasm is filled with boiling pitch and in it suffer the barterers and barrators who used their public offices and authority to make money. A fearsome demon swoops towards the poets and drops a government official of the city of Lucca into the pitch, returning to Lucca for more men like him. Other demons swoop down upon the soul and tear his flesh with hooks telling him to stay under the pitch and saying, "covered thou must dance thee here; so that, if thou canst, thou mayest pilfer privately." Canto XXI, pg. 114 Virgil tells Dante to hide in a crag of rock and he ventures across the bridge. The demons fly at him, but he manages to stop their flight and recount his story and special privilege at which they back off. Dante hurries to Virgil's side and their leader, Malacoda, sends some demons to escort the pair to the next bridge down the circle, the immediate one being in ruins. The demons can barely restrain themselves from attacking their wards.

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